The last few months have been quite a ride. Since our official launch in San Francisco less than a year ago, we’ve expanded into eight additional markets, doubled our employee count, acquired HeyRide in Austin, broke records at SXSW and have emerged as the #1 rideshare community. Our CFO Nick Allen played a pivotal role in our rapid expansion; under his fearless leadership Sidecar LA, Austin, Philly and Chicago surpassed San Francisco growth milestones in less than two months.
Today we look forward to the future with the addition of two company leaders who will help us build our brand visibility and prepare for global expansion – Gregory Boutte, Chief Revenue Officer and Robert Wong, EVP Product.
Gregory joins us from eBay where he was Vice President of eBay Electronics and eBay Motors, two of eBay North America’s largest businesses. Previous to that he served as managing director of eBay France and VP of Southern Europe managing eBay operations in ten European countries. Under Gregory’s leadership, eBay became the number one ecommerce site in France. As Chief Revenue Officer, Gregory will be responsible for managing the company’s rapid expansion and marketing, growing both our driver and rider community and overseeing Sidecar’s penetration into national and international markets. Gregory has a reputation for leadership and execution. His depth of experience in two-sided marketplaces and international operations will be key to Sidecar’s global acceleration.
Robert is a renowned industry product executive with the strategic and tactical expertise to take a breakthrough idea mainstream. He was previously VP of Product at Hulu where he led design, product management, editorial and customer support for Hulu and Hulu Plus. During his five years at Hulu, Robert grew the product team to more than 100 people, drove the launch of the Hulu Plus subscription service, directed the product design for Hulu beyond the computer to more than 300 million Internet-connected devices, and led successful product redesigns of web, living room and mobile experiences. As EVP Product, Robert will oversee product management, design, user experience and Sidecar community vehicle branding to drive increased visibility.
We founded Sidecar with a vision to rethink transportation and make it better for the environment, the economy and our communities through smartphones and shared rides. We’ll do this by having the best ideas, the best product and the best execution. But we are a people platform first, and a technology platform second. In order to rethink transportation we must have the best leaders, the best team and the best community of drivers and riders. With these strong additions to our team, we are well on our way!
Sidecar Technologies, Inc.
SideCar is the #1 instant rideshare community that uses smartphones to match people who need a ride with everyday drivers willing to give them one. As our community knows, it’s a safe and reliable way to get around town, meet new people and help keep more cars off the road. Ridesharing helps reduce carbon emissions, decrease air pollution, reduce traffic congestion and helps people save money. New Yorkers want rideshare! 83% surveyed think New York City is a good candidate for a new rideshare program.
Unfortunately, New York regulators view rideshare as competition to taxis and want to shut SideCar down.
Sharing resources is not a crime – it’s a solution for a better and more sustainable way of life. The future of sharing in New York City is at stake. Join thousands nationwide and support ridesharing with these two steps:
- Call Mayor Bloomberg at 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) and tell him that SideCar is a safe, affordable and reliable form of transportation, and that you want to keep it in New York City!
- Click the button to send Mayor Bloomberg a customized Tweet:
We founded SideCar with a vision to rethink transportation and make it better for the environment, the economy and our communities through smartphones and shared rides. This idea is so disruptive that the taxi industry has taken extreme measures to stop rideshare from flourishing in New York City.
The TLC Targeted SideCar Drivers
Last weekend, the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) cited two women in SideCar’s brand ambassador program as part of a sting operation. After completing a promotional ride near Webster Hall in Manhattan on Friday night, police vehicles blocked Sandra’s car while two officers interrogated her. At least one of them wore a bulletproof vest. Her keys were taken, she was issued a citation and her brand new car was impounded. Sandra works at Lutheran Augustana Center as a resident clothing handler. She is saving to return to Borough Manhattan Community College as a nursing student next summer.
SideCar community driver Kristy’s stopped vehicle was surrounded by five police officers on 440 East 56th Street on Saturday night. She too was interrogated, not allowed to make a phone call and forced to sit in the back seat of her car while officers checked her license and registration. She was eventually allowed to return home. Kristy is a full-time history student saving for grad school. She is also a tutor for kids in Long Island. With car payment, insurance and gas she estimates she spends about $1000 a month on her car. She wants to earn money by promoting new ride match services like SideCar while also covering the cost of owning a car in New York City.
Sandra and Kristy are extremely shaken up by the aggressive actions of the TLC. Sharing resources is not a crime and these women didn’t deserve to be treated like criminals.
Ride Match is Legal in New York City
We’ve been having active conversations with the TLC since launching SideCar in New York City. We are extremely disappointed that the TLC enforcement division ignored our dialogue about rideshare and chose to conduct a sting operation targeting two women in our community. SideCar and ridesharing are legal activities in New York City:
- SideCar is a technology platform that matches people for shared rides. SideCar is not a “for hire” transportation service.
- The TLC regulates “for hire” vehicles. SideCar does not dispatch drivers or mandate shifts. Drivers are not employees and their cars are their own.
- There are no meters or required fees, payment is entirely voluntary and the amount donated (including nothing) is at the total discretion of the passenger.
- The City Code regulates vehicles that operate “for hire” Members of the SideCar rideshare community pay what they want and it’s 100% voluntary.
- SideCar is protected under Federal law.
- The TLC’s licensing requirements and regulatory barriers are designed to shield taxi companies from competition.
Transportation is too important to close the door on innovation. Despite the TLC’s extremely aggressive enforcement action this weekend, we will continue to work for the right to share resources and bring the benefits of rideshare to New York City. What happens in New York City has implications for the entire sharing economy.
Ride On New York City!
SideCar Technologies, Inc.
Getting around Austin, Philadelphia and Los Angeles is getting sweeter this weekend. Beginning at 5pm Friday, SideCar will be available in these cities every weekend until 3am. You can catch a SideCar ride in West LA, Santa Monica, Venice and Culver City for now and we’ll expand to the rest of LA soon. Downtown Austin and Philadelphia, we’ve got you covered. Chicago, New York, Boston and Washington DC, you’re next!
Tell your friends to download the app and use the promo code “FRIENDS” for $10 off their first ride.
Want to give rides? Sign up at www.side.cr/drive.
SideCar is a smartphone app that matches regular drivers in their own car with people nearby who need a ride. Think of us as matchmakers for the perfect ride – right when you want it, good for the economy, good for your wallet, good for the environment and fun! We’re committed to empowering YOU to help solve the transportation problems that plague our cities. SideCar is taking true rideshare, and all the benefits it brings, nationwide.
The SideCar Team
We recently asked SideCar riders where they feel safer – a taxi or a ride connected by SideCar? A whopping 71% said they felt safer with SideCar than taxis. We think the reason is that government efforts to protect public safety haven’t kept up with the innovations of the Internet, social media and smartphone apps. SideCar provides a 10-point safety system that includes community feedback on drivers, GPS tracking of the vehicles, electronic background checks and our unique ability to share details of a trip with others.
SideCar responds to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
SideCar responded yesterday to the CPUC’s order to institute rulemaking on ridesharing “to protect public safety” and encourage technology innovation in transportation. In our comments and recommendations to the CPUC we argue that SideCar is not only safe, it’s safer than taxis and limos. We also point out that the current safety regulations for taxis and limos don’t appear to be based on data and are probably a result of historical, political and industry pressure. For example, did you know drug testing is not required to become a cab driver in San Francisco? Are you aware that a convicted felon can get a license to drive a limo in California because no background checks are required?
SideCar’s response yesterday lays the groundwork for the future of transportation. California is poised to become a global leader in the transportation information technology revolution but first we must figure out how to encourage innovation rather than stifle it. What works in California is often copied around the world, so these decisions have global implications. Here are highlights of our comments to the CPUC:
If you want safety, build community
Sidecar believes that the stronger our community, the better the safety. The SideCar community sets and enforces high standards for safety and quality. Drivers and riders rate one another and people with low ratings are removed from the SideCar community. We believe that by giving the community the capability to monitor itself we can build trust and safety to a level impossible to achieve through either the marketplace or government alone. The combination of these features and processes provides consumers with a greater degree of security and safety than taxi or limos.
A bright line needs to be drawn for rideshare
SideCar enables true rideshare because it is the only smartphone enabled transportation solution that requires destination at the start of a ride. Simply put, rideshare is not rideshare if the driver doesn’t first know where he or she is going. SideCar is the only service cited by the CPUC that enables its community to use the safe harbor of the ridesharing provisions because only SideCar requires destination from riders and shows it to drivers. Setting a maximum amount of money that can be earned would also provide clarity for drivers and insurers.
Destination builds safety and trust
Unique to SideCar is that both passenger and driver know where the car is headed. Drivers have peace of mind that they won’t be asked to drive somewhere they aren’t comfortable. Passengers have confidence that the driver knows where they are going. And because destination is required, riders can share where they’re going and live updates of their trip with someone else.
The good of the nation requires destination
Ridesharing reduces emissions that cause health problems and climate change, reduces traffic and makes more efficient use of publicly funded infrastructure. We only get these benefits if the driver can plan the trip, which requires destination from the rider. Without destination, a smartphone app for transportation is likely to increase emissions, congestion and overuse of public infrastructure.
SideCar has the potential to transform and offer a fundamentally different model for addressing critical environmental, economic and quality of life issues across California and our Nation. We are optimistic the rulemaking process will clarify the ridesharing law by drawing a bright line that distinguishes peer-to-peer rideshare platforms like SideCar’s and those companies who use smartphone technology to dispatch and provide transportation services.
SideCar Technologies, Inc.
We’re always looking for ways to improve the SideCar experience for our community of riders and drivers. With today’s latest update (v1.544) you’ll see that we’ve modified our donations model from the floating “community average” to the more stable “suggested donation.”
We’re doing this in response to SideCar riders telling us that they’d like to donate more to great drivers without driving up the community average donation for all. So as of today, the donations displayed will no longer be the true floating average, as it has been. Instead, they will be stable and reasonable for both riders and drivers. If you’ve had a great ride, moving forward you should feel free to donate as much as you want to your awesome driver. They’ll certainly appreciate it!
With over 100,000 rides under our belt, we know the average donation for rides all over San Francisco and Seattle. We’ll put this information to good use by generating a suggested donation based on the average for your ride. As always, donations are completely voluntary with SideCar.
We are humbled by the amazing support we’ve received from people in San Francisco and beyond in support of ridesharing services like SideCar. Over 6,400 people have signed the Change.org petition to encourage the CPUC to support ridesharing and transportation innovation. We have come together in support of ridesharing and we’re pleased to report progress has been made on all sides. This morning the CPUC released an Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR), a proposal to initiate a proceeding to modify the existing CPUC transportation regulations.
The CPUC staff stated in the OIR draft:
“Businesses like Sidecar and Lyft have presented the Commission with a situation not encountered before: the use of mobile communications and social networks to connect individuals wishing to offer and receive low cost and convenient, sometimes shared, transportation.”
Subject to final approval by the Commissioners, this proposal moves the focus toward a constructive dialogue with the Commission about how to apply CPUC regulations to these new business models and digital media. You can find the full text of the OIR here.
A new medium needs new rules. New technology and innovation will always require regulators to review their policies. Your support has made a difference. With your help we’re now having a productive public policy conversation and we’re moving in the right direction.
We are just getting started. We may need your voice again so please stay tuned.
CEO | SideCar
Yesterday SideCar received a citation from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) imposing fines of $20,000 and asserting that we are operating a transportation carrier, which is like saying Airbnb is a hotel chain, that Travelocity is an airline, or that eBay is a store. We established SideCar to allow drivers and passengers to connect with one another under the safe harbor of the ridesharing provisions of the law. We neither own nor operate cars. We neither employ nor use contract drivers. We connect a community of like-minded people who volunteer to give rides to one another in a safer, faster, and more convenient way than casual carpool or a bulletin board like Craigslist.
Inspired by the casual carpool system that moves over 5,000 people daily in the Bay Area, we have abided by the basic principles of a true community marketplace:
- Drivers have choice and can decide if a trip makes sense for them to accept. The SideCar driver app interface shows both pickup and drop off locations for each ride request so it’s easy to determine whether rideshare will work for the particular driver and trip.
- Riders have a choice of which driver to ask for a ride. We default the choice to “closest driver” but you can change it to other drivers. I regularly request rides from drivers who have become friends.
- We do not set or assess a fare or rate. Payment is entirely voluntary and the starting point for payment is merely the average of what other passengers have paid. The community is creating the guidance, and neither the driver nor SideCar can require compensation of any amount.
When we launched SideCar we imagined a world with transportation options that are more sustainable, more social, safer, and more affordable than today’s solutions. SideCar is not just a company, but part of a large movement to use smartphones to enable owners of assets to share and collaborate with others for greater efficiency. These technologies and ideas are new to government, so it’s no surprise that early reactions are to force us in a box that is convenient for regulators to understand.
We are determined to continue our conversations with the CPUC and other authorities in order to educate them on the value of SideCar and the sharing economy as a whole. This ticket certainly has our attention, but it will not sidetrack us from our broad and important mission to reform a transportation model and legacy regulatory system that hasn’t evolved or innovated in almost half a century.
WE NEED YOUR VOICE
Ridesharing may be the sharing industry’s canary in the coalmine and it’s up to us to guard against this regulatory overreach to prevent a broader assault on individual property, communications and association rights. As a community we must stand together. We need to let California officials know that we support and embrace transportation innovation. Here’s what you can do:
- Tell the CPUC to support ridesharing services by signing and sharing the petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/tell-the-puc-to-support-ride-sharing-services
- Let your voice be heard on Twitter and Facebook. Use the hashtag #defendsharing and show that you are part of the movement to create a better world.
- Contact Governor Brown’s office and let them know you support transportation innovation.
In our continued effort to provide transparency throughout this process, you’ll find a scan of our citation below.
Thank you for your support.
Today we announced that we have raised a Series A round of $10 million from Lightspeed and Google Ventures.
It’s great to be working with these two firms to help build SideCar. Justin Caldbeck from Lightspeed has a lot of experience with two-sided markets through his work helping TaskRabbit and GrubHub. We are looking forward to his insight and help as a member of the board. Joe Kraus from Google Ventures has built several successful companies and knows transportation from his investment in RelayRides. We expect to lean on his experience and others at Google as we build SideCar.
We will use the funds for three goals. Expand the team. We are currently just under 20 people and we expect to roughly double in size with more amazing people. Expand the product offering. We will make SideCar even more awesome to the point that it becomes like magic. Finally, we will take the SideCar love that we developed here in San Francisco and bring it to the world.
A big thanks goes out to the SideCar community… drivers, passengers and supporters. We have done something amazing together. A volunteer network has built a new transportation service in a major city. It’s an awesome thing to be a part of and we’re just getting started.